Texture Mapping Real-World Objects with Hydrographics


In the digital world, assigning arbitrary colors to an object is a simple operation thanks to texture mapping. However, in the real world, the same basic function of applying colors onto an object is far from trivial. One can specify colors during the fabrication process using a color 3D printer, but this does not apply to already existing objects. Paint and decals can be used during post-fabrication, but they are challenging to apply on complex shapes. In this paper, we develop a method to enable texture mapping of physical objects, that is, we allow one to map an arbitrary color image onto a three-dimensional object. Our approach builds upon hydrographics, a technique to transfer pigments printed on a sheet of polymer onto curved surfaces. We first describe a setup that makes the traditional water transfer printing process more accurate and consistent across prints. We then simulate the transfer process using a specialized parameterization to estimate the mapping between the planar color map and the object surface. We demonstrate that our approach enables the application of detailed color maps onto complex shapes such as 3D models of faces and anatomical casts.